Washington (March 5, 2003) -- With an unfolding accounting scandal at Dutch food retailer Ahold grabbing headlines, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board voted unanimously Tuesday in favor of requiring both U.S. and non-domestic accounting firms to register with it, according to published reports.

In its first major regulatory initiative, and still operating without a chairperson after William Webster stepped down, the PCAOB sent the registration rule out for public comment. It will later go before the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Incoming SEC Chairman Bill Donaldson has said that one of his first tasks will be to appoint someone to chair the PCAOB, but so far he has not done so.

The issue of foreign firm registration has drawn objections from officials of non-U.S. accounting firms who contend that having to register with the board would subject European Union audit firms to "an inefficient and excessive double regulatory regime," Reuters said.

"The board recognizes that the registration of non-U.S. firms may raise special issues," the board said. "Over the course of the next months, the board intends to consider the appropriate scope of its oversight authority with respect to accounting firms located outside the United States." A public roundtable on foreign firm registration is expected to be held sometime in the near future.

Under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the legislation that created the board, the PCAOB has until April 26 to get up and running. All public accounting firms that audit the books of corporations regulated by the SEC are supposed be registered with the board by late October.

In other PCAOB news, the board announced it has named former SEC veteran George Diacont as director of its registration and inspection office.

Currently Diacont serves as chief accountant for listings investigations for Nasdaq. He spent 24 years at the SEC in the office of the chief accountant and in the enforcement division, and began his career as an auditor at Haskins & Sells.

-- Electronic Accountant Newswire Staff

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Accounting Today content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access